Fire does one of two things. It refines or it destroys. Just as there are two types of fire, there are two starters of fires. The fire that refines is lit by God, the fire that destroys is lit by the devil himself. It may seem as though you and I have no control over who sets our fires and who controls them, but that is not the case. You and I have much more control over the fires in our lives than we often give ourselves credit for. We are not helpless victims in the middle of a burning building. We can choose to be consumed by a destructive fire or we can choose to become a piece of ceramic in the midst of the blaze, made more beautiful by the heat of the kiln.
This morning my Mom and I wandered down to a farmer’s market just down the road from where we are staying in Hilton Head Island. I was expecting to find an array of luscious vegetables. I was surprised to see that this particular farmer’s market boasted more local artisans than it did local produce. Booths were lined up in rows selling lotions, butters, relishes, purses, paintings, and, my personal weakness, handcrafted ceramic coffee mugs. I’m a sucker for interesting mugs. I have a ridiculously large collection of them but that doesn’t stop me from buying more of them, especially on vacation. I rationalize that they are my souvenir of choice (the truth is I have a lot of souvenirs of choice).
Well today I did some more rationalizing and some more unnecessary purchasing by picking out a beautifully, hand crafted blue mug with a special handle perfect for grasping to sip on a warm cup of morning coffee. This mug has me looking forward to tomorrow morning at seven AM when I will pour myself a cup of black coffee with no cream and no sugar (I’m hardcore).
As I was turning the cup upside down and all around, taking in the intricacies of its design and feeling its perfect curves in the grip of my hand I was reminded of the refining fire. Without it my mug would never reached this level of perfection. The glossy finish would have been unattainable. The glaze could have been applied but without the heat it would have never change its chemical structure to attain the lustrous blue that caught my eye. The process of being under heat caused the chemicals in the clay and the paint to meld together to create a perfectly glassy finish. Paint alone couldn’t create this beauty. It needed the heat of the kiln. It needed to be refined by fire.
Just like me.
All of the greatest of intentions and abundance of knowledge won’t change me or mold me until I am put under fire. It is under the pressure of heat that I can become more than what I am now. I can be refined, molded, shaped and enhanced. Even the greatest of paint and fanciest of materials won’t do me any good unless some heat is applied. It is the kilns of life that bring about the most remarkable beauty.
There are bound to be days, months, and years in life where we feel like the heat is turned up to unbearable temperatures. This is when we have a choice: let it refine or let it destroy.
God can make that heat into a kiln. He can use it to refine but we must let Him.
I want to be like that mug I bought this morning. When I get under heat I want to become better, more beautiful, more breathtaking. I don’t want to crack or crumble in the heat of my fire. I want to get into God’s kiln, let Him turn up the hat and see what design He has in mind especially for me.
The choice is mine and the choice is ours. Who’s setting our fires? Who’s controlling their temperatures? Most importantly, what are we letting those fires do to our lives? Dear Reader, let God set your fires, control the blaze and create something beautiful under the pressure of high heat. Let the Lord refine you by fire.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.